This will not go down as the worst game of the Cavaliers’ season. They led the Jazz, a playoff team in the Western Conference last season, by as many as nine points. They actually ran some offensive sets that yielded easy looks. Collin Sexton, on his 20th birthday, made three three-pointers.
And yet, for the 31st time this season, the Cavs lost. Final score: Jazz 117, Cavs 91. Alec Burks led the Cavs with 17 points off the bench and Sexton added 13 points on 3-13 shooting. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 18 points for the Jazz.
Ex-Cavalier Kyle Korver, in his first game back in Cleveland, scored 10 points. Another ex-Cav, Jae Crowder, finished with 16 points.
Cleveland held a nine-point lead in the second quarter after Hood drove and got an and-one with 3:08 to play. But Utah was only down by one at the half after Mitchell made a three-pointer with 50.4 seconds to go. Still: the Cavs had to be feeling good after the first half. The Cavs shot 50 percent on three-pointers in the first half vs. a meager 29.4 percent for the Jazz. Hood and Clarkson were the only players in double figures. The team looked competent.
But then the Cavs looked more like the team they usually look like. A six-point Cedi Osman run held off the Jazz’s advances for a time, but Ricky Rubio scored with 6:50 to go to put the Jazz up by one.
From there, it was little mistakes — like Patrick McCaw stepping out of bounds, McCaw throwing the ball away or the defense just putting up no resistance on drives to the rim — that added up and put the game well out of Cleveland’s reach. The deficit went to six points, and then 10 points and then to 11 points before it settled in at 10 after three quarters.
The Cavs’ issues only escalated in the fourth quarter. By 6:21 of the fourth quarter, the Jazz were up by 25. Cleveland ended up trailing by as many as 34 points in the loss. It also marks the team’s eighth loss in a row.
Up next for the Cavs is a game tomorrow at home against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, another playoff team from last season. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.